Thursday, August 9, 2012

Book Review: The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars: Dispatches from the Front Lines

I have been following the climate change "controversy" for some time now. I've known for many years that the science behind it is sound and solid. However, the amount of vicious and coordinated attacks on the whole concept surprised me, even though I still remember attacks on the research into the ozone hole in the 80s.

As in the 80s, I could not understand why anyone with vested interests in our future (and by "interests" I mean our children, who will reap the "rewards" of our stupidity) would deny the facts and research with such viciousness.

So, I was happy when one of the most famous scientists involved in the climate research, Dr. Michael E. Mann, wrote a book, "The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars: Dispatches from the Front Lines", detailing the last 20 years of his struggle with the climate change denial industry.  
I wanted to see the details of this fight. I wanted to understand the possible reasons behind the people responsible for the attacks not only on science and research itself, but on individuals who dedicated their lives in pursuit of truths that benefit the entire human kind.

This book gave me not only a glimpse into the people who would not stop at anything to get their agenda ahead, no matter how disconnected from reality it was, like Senator James Inhofe, or Virginia's Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli. It also showed me how personal those attacks were and how they affected people whose only fault was being scientists.

However, the greatest benefit of this book is its amazing explanation of science and research behind our current understanding of the anthropomorphic global warming. Dr. Mann explains details with eloquence that makes those, sometimes difficult concepts, easy to grasp. Climate science is hard. It requires a firm understanding of many other disciplines. It requires statistical methods that are so far away from our daily routines, that their comprehension (and basic comprehension at best) needs an excellent teacher, who can bring them down to a level of a lay person.

I have to say, Dr. Mann does the job perfectly!

It's almost comical that I finished this book on the same day that July of 2012 was announced to be the hottest month on record in the US.

That's just one more reason to read Dr. Mann's book, especially if you are still sitting on a fence, not sure about the science of global warming. If you keep your political mind away, this book will change your mind.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Now, That's What I Call Crazy!!!

Crazy... insane... out of this world? Just plain stupid... Nope... it's NRA.
Let me check the calendar... it is 2012, not 1812, right?
The National Rifle Association will seek to pass a bill legalizing the open carrying of firearms in Florida during the 2013 session of the state Legislature, renewing a crusade for expanded gun rights that faltered last year, a longtime lobbyist for the group said today.
Read the rest: Marion Hammer: NRA wants new open carry law in Florida

Thanks to for the timeless image...

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Pasco School Board Elections: Let's Stick With Competence

As the election for the local Pasco County School Board is coming up on August 14th, I'm glad to see that I'm not the only one who would like to see a candidate with some competence and sanity elected to this important position.

Two candidates are on the ballot this year, Joanne Hurley and Don Stephenson, and since I have a son in the local elementary school, I have a vital interest in how the local school district is managed and what future directions it takes.

I expressed some reservations about Don Stephenson in my previous posts: "2011 - Summary" and "Pasco School Board Elections - My Gripes", especially with his fiscal stance, his opposition to the International Baccalaureate program, and his support of the Amendment 7. As we see American students performing poorly in math, science and engineering, as compared to other developed nations, we need to ensure that more resources are available to our public schools. Freezing taxes, diverting public resources to private schools and religious institutions and dismantling well performing programs like the International Baccalaureate, is not an acceptable solution. It will make our kids less capable of competing in the global marketplace, with no knowledge of other cultures and points of view.

At the same time Don Stephenson's opponent, Joanne Hurley, seems to be well prepared for this position, having served on the Pasco School Board for the last four years. She has a lifetime of experience in this area and seems to be free of the extreme, right-leaning ideas that Mr. Stephenson presents (like branding the IB program anti-American???).

I'm very glad that the Tampa Bay Times also recommends Joanne Hurley for the School Board re-election and that its article shares a lot of my own reservations about Don Stephenson.